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Readers Respond: Tell us about your experiences with kidney disease in pets

Responses: 27


Kidney failure is common in dogs and cats, especially as they age, called chronic renal failure.

Lilies (for cats), antifreeze, and grapes and raisins, are all common substances that may cause acute (sudden) kidney failure in pets.

The signs seen with kidney failure may be dramatic - failure to urinate, anorexia, vomiting. Often more subtle changes are seen, often attributed to "just old age." Knowing the signs of kidney failure will help you get your pet to the vet sooner to begin treatment.

What signs did you notice, and how do you cope with your pet's kidney disease and manage clinical signs at home?

cat with kidney failure

I started writing me story about my sweet 2 year old boy. I couldn't finish it. If you think something is wrong, take your pet to the vet immediately. Don't wait. My little guy died 6 hours before his appointment and will never forget that.
—Guest Meghhh

Dayah my shih tzu

She is only 8 months May 2014 and is total failure she is on hills special diet she was born with it, genetic she just wasnt acting like a puppy, drinking alot of water and not wanting to eat, vet did blood work and my heart was broken. I have been fighting for her but the vet said its getting near to the end. Please ask vet to do blood work if you think its just not normal
—Guest Terri

Kidney disease

My darling Waikiki had arthritis and slowed alot in recent years. He had ear infections and was up and down. He appeared to drink normal amounts of water and always ate. Then he had diahorrea and vomitting and the vet said it was sensitive tummy. He had loss of weight around hind legs and lost more weight. He suddenly stopped eating and drinking, took to vets and was put to sleep as there was nothing to be done.after reading the comments here, I see alot of similarities, staring into space. I feel I should have seen the symptoms and helped him earlier and he would have survived. Finding it hard to keep going as he was the light of my life. I wish I had cuddled him more and given him anything he wanted when he was able to eat. I am devastated but keep telling myself he is at peace now.
—Guest JSPE07

Hard lesson

I lost my dog in last year due to chronic liver and kidney failure and I thought it was related to his arthritis medication. Like a contributor here, I could kick myself because I just didn't know what eating dirt and being aggressive meant. I was taking my dog to the vets with various symptoms, like vomiting, frequent urination, lack of appetite and weight loss but they never did a blood test to find the cause, even 4 days beforehand, only on the day we were left with no choice. I have asked my vet to offer owners monitoring blood tests and to provide them with a full list of side effects and contraindications, because manufacturers don't always include the full list with the packaging and they have agreed. It is too late for all of us but my lesson is to research every every symptom and every prescribed drug. It is a very hard lesson and he paid the ultimate price, bless him. Thank you for letting me share this on your forum today
—Guest CH

My Rosie

My dog Rosie started eating less about a 3 weeks ago and would occasionally throw up a foamy fluid. She wasn't pooping so we thought it was just constipation. We tried to treat it but she then stopped eating all together. We took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with kidney disease. The vet didn't expect her to live past 3 months. He put her on fluids and antibiotics while she slept there for 3 nights. The first few nnightsher levels showed no change but by the fourth day everything had gone down to lower levels. She is no longer in kidney failure! We are just happy to have more time even though her kidneys may go back into failure. I am hoping it will not happen within this year. She is so loved and I thank God for giving us more time with her.
—Guest Purselley

I'm losing my dachsie girl to CRF

My little 11 year-old red girl started have incontinence issues last November. The vet said her kidney function wasn't good, and put her on Purnia NF food, and Proin for the incontinence. Between November 24th and April 9th she lost 4 pounds, would barely touch the canned food, wouldn't eat the dry at all. She was throwing up, falling over when walking, extremely weak and listless. Her BUN and Crea levels almost doubled over that period, and her RBC counts were falling. I stopped the canned food, started making my own for her at home. She's had 4 sub Q fluid treatments and is eating like a wolf, but her RBC is even lower today, and I know there's absolutely nothing I can do to really help her, I can just try to make her feel better. I'm just horribly sad - I feel like I've failed her, and I have a horrible suspicion that commercial dog food and treats are what are harming our pets' health. CRF is rampant it seems.
—Guest kaye

My Little Lulus story

My 3,5 y.o. cat was diagnosed with CKD. My cat was always fine before simple blood test. She is allergic to anesthetics( almost died when spayed), she is also allergic to vaccination( didn't know that before) and the allergy treatments. We started the treatment and her Creatine started getting down until they injected vaccination, she was at life risk again!They told me vaccination was a must! I live in China and i was very stupid to take her to small hospitals, due to little knowledge of Vets my cat was at life risk few times. Forgot to mention that she has a cyst that we cannot operate due to her allergy, but F***ng Vets where squeezing the spot without knowing it was a cyst,now its much bigger!Lulu is doing fine, but if there will be need for vaccination, or any injections there will be always a risk of losing her...I hope she lives many many healthy years and i really hope medicine for pets gets more advanced so we can avoid mistakes of Vets that can take animals lives!
—Guest Lulu with not only CKD

To Help Comfort You

OES Zak, 13+ lost weight, little appetite, back legs weakening. Loved him, comforted him, talked to him. Fought it about 1 year. THEN he had a severe seizure, which blinded & disoriented him for hours. Sticky tar-like feces, indicating internal bleeding. Took him to vet; anesthetized and euthanized - as I talked to him, held and petted him. It was hard, but the kindest way. Miss him, but knew he would die horribly w/o euthanizing. There IS a time when it is time to let go.
—Guest Linda

Border Collie with Renal Failure

Took my 13 yo BC in for teeth cleaning and to remove a growth on eyelid. Pro-op blood work showed elevated creatinine. Creatinine/BUN was creeping up over the next three months. Began kidney diet and pro-biotics. Three months later creatinine and BUN levels are well within the normal range and dog is doing well for her age. Continuing with K/D and pro-biotics and hoping for the best.
—Guest DogMom

The value of a second opinion

We brought our 6 year old male kitty to a walk in pet hospital with concerns about what thought was excessive thirst and because he kept peeing just outside the litter box. After examining him, the vet suggested blood work. She had already done a urine sample to rule out an infection, but said that the urine was too dilute to make a proper diagnosis. Kitty's blood was drawn and we went home and waited. The vet called the next day to give us the bad news. Kitty's creatinine was at 6.8, and BUN at 140. I rushed him back at the vets urgent recommendation, and he was put on IV fluids to reduce the toxicity of his blood. I started asking questions, but the answers weren't jiving with me. Every avenue led to two overnights, an ultrasound, and more tests costing $2300 . I left with my cat, IV catheter in place because the vet refused to remove it. Further testing with another Vet revealed kitty is the picture of health. Changes in litter box location, litter, and type of box fixed the issue.
—Guest Tamara

my little Louie acute renal failure

We just found out hrs ago our 14+ yr old terrier is in acute renal failure,.and has pancreatitis. its such a shock, he was only vomiting like 6hrs but because he's diabetic, and holding his insulin, we thought we'd better take him in. labs revealed a very sick little man, but because his behavior was mostly normal, we opted to bring him home and treat with subq fluids. Now within hours his condition has rapidly deteriorated and I wish I wouldn't of put him thru this. He restless, pacing,.will only lay down on a cold floor?? which is odd, but whatever he wants. It appears the treatment isn't working. tomorrow we will give him peace....I'm just so sick why didn't I see this before it got so bad? Now I'm losing my best friend :(
—Guest Mary

Niall's sad care-taker

Our beloved Niall was not even two when we found him immobile (after we had been gone over night). He was up to then an extremely healthy part Manx cat, 100% indoor cat (and spoiled) with no symptoms of anything wrong. We rushed him to an emergency vet, who xrayed him and got him on fluid IV. She thought it was a blocked tom situation, but his bladder was not distended. His kidneys, however, looked overly large. Pink gums, pads, normal heart/blood pressure. But he yowled in pain (or terror?) and couldn't move. She hoped if he'd gotten into a toxin that IV would flush it out. Nope. We had to put him down when he began having uncontrollable seizures. Still mourning a lot, and trying to figure out cause. We have no lillies, grapes, or anti-freeze in the house. He may have found an ibuprofen pill, but why would a well fed finicky cat eat one of those? There was a little vomit near his inert body, when we found him. No prior symptoms. So sad.
—Guest Theresa

5 year old Beagle mix - Giselle

Recently we made a trip to the vet for annual checkups. We have a 5 year old beagle mix (6) in April, and a 4 year old smooth Red Dachshund (Kirby). Giselle had always had her little oddities about her and that's what made us fall in love with her in the first place. About three months after we got her, she came down with Parvovirus. We had her in the Vet for a week and she came out of it ok. She still would get sick and vomit stomach bile every so often and the vet stated that with parvovirus, this can be expected. She always kept her appetite and her thirst. needless to say she has been acting strangely, she didn't seem to want to eat but she continued drinking - heavily. When the Vet told us her numbers - 6.3 and 150, I went numb. She doesn't like the Renal food so we have to make her special food from home. Not sure how much time is left, but I will cherish the time I do have. We can't have kids so these are our babies . . . Mommy and Daddy will always love you Giselle!!!
—Guest Robert and Megan

Our dear Cali

We have had Cali in our lives for 13 wonderful years. Our daughters asked us for a dog when they were little, and they grew up with her. Some months ago we were told she had minimal kidney function, possibly as a result of a bout with Lyme disease, but I'm not sure. In recent months she showed a marked decline; her appetite has decreased, she sleeps on an upstairs mattress most of the time, her breath is bad, and her feces and urine output have slowed to almost nothing, though she still goes outside and tries. As much as it pains me, we have to say goodbye to her before too long. It's not fair to keep her alive just so we can enjoy her company, especially if there is no chance for recovery. The vet has done all they can do, and it is now time to end her suffering. I just wish my daughters could have seen her one last time. Goodbye, dear friend Cali.


Our cat Sox passed away this morning,only six. He has been on antibiotics fr a week for a water infection and seemed to be making a good recovery. Yesterday he was sick and pushing his water bowl around the kitchen. We are absolutely devastated as we dont know the cause.
—Guest sharon
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